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Russel Market     Click here for a 360° panoramic view of Russel Market Panorama    

Outside view of Russel MarketThe place was crowded with all kinds of people young and old - an old woman with a handful of vegetables, a small girl making a garland with different kinds of flowers, some people standing in a line in the meat stall, somebody selling tea; it is an experience in itself to see the people work in this busy market. If your guess was Russel Market, then you are absolutely right.

Built in 1927, Russel Market is one of the oldest markets in Bangalore. The classical architectural design is very Indian but A heady fragrancestill more impressive though the building is a bit jaded.We spoke to an elderly person who had a fruit stall and had been working there for almost 65 years now and this is what he had to say: "During our times we used to see memsahibs driven in their carriages and there was one ice stall which imported ice from Madras and to have ice was a great thing then. The horse carriages of old have given way to the Marutis and the Mitsubishi Lancers, which today carry the memsahibs into the Mega Shopping malls on M.G. Road and other areas. And ice is today available in plenty."

Flowers sold in kilogramsAs we entered the market, the first thing we could see was the beautiful flowers, the fragrance of which spreads across the corridor.Women standing in a queue patiently waiting for their chance to buy jasmine buds in bulk. We also saw a lot of fruit vendors selling apples, mangoes, grapes and avocados.Some of the fruits are imported from different parts of the world like Australia and New Zealand... Moving further we came across the vegetable vendors who had varieties of vegetables. One could just pick up almost anything there.

Thenfrom a distance, we saw a man chopping some meat and just to see what exactly he was doing, we went closer towards him. Reaching the central courtyard, there were neatly arranged rows of meat shops. Strung up were fresh cuts of mutton. This is Bangalore’s biggest mutton, beef and fish market. There were a row of mutton stalls and people buying fresh meat. Nearby, there were around 10 road side stalls selling beef and mutton kababs. They were roasted and served hot. They looked really yum but we did not want to take the risk of tasting them as we were not sure of the oil they were using. Arif, a regular customer to the mutton stall looked deliAll set to fry!!!ghted eating his kabab and was ordering for more. If you're one of those with an open mind and mouth, you might just enjoy the food they serve there and you’ll be surprised with what you may encounter. The stalls selling dry fish are tucked away behind one of the main roads leading away from the market. The range and variety of dried fish is amazing.

We came out of the meat market and started walking through the row of vegetable shops.We stopped at one particular shop because we found a lot of rare vegetables that other shops didn't have and the manner in which the vegetables were arranged was something great. "It is an art to arrange these vegetables", says Kumar who was arranging these rare vegetables. We were really eager to meet the owner and without even a second thought he took us to another building where the owner was helping his people weigh the vegetables. His name is S. Siraj Ahmed.

Siraj Ahmed with the help of his brother runs this vegetable store. He took us on a guided tour of the place where there were almost 125 vegetable shops and 25 mandis. He says that most of the vegetables are from the local farmers and some of them come from Chikmagalur, Chikballapur, Hasan and Mandya.

Aren't they fresh!!!Have you heard of Black Carrots, large Amlas, Red Jalapenos, Red Cabbage, Artichokes, Brussel Sprouts, Endives, Ring beans, Singaras (water cheese)? Well these are names of exotic vegetables from different parts of the country like New Delhi, Kolkata and Ooty. He is also one of the main wholesale vegetable suppliers in the city. He is famous for his north Indian vegetables like Tinda, Kamal Kakdi, Tar Kakdi, Parwaland Parsley. He and and his brother Suhail Ahmed supply their vegetables to Oberoi, KFC, Leela Palace, Pizza Hut, Pizza Corner, Domino's Pizza, etc., on contract basis.

When asked as to how they manage to have certain vegetables all through the year, Siraj says: "There are certain months where we face difficulty. During those days we select some vegetables from the retail market and supply them to our customers though it's a loss for us. If we do not we would lose our tender and incur a bigger loss."

So the next time you eat in Pizza Corner, Pizza Hut, Domino's Pizza, Oberoi, KFC, you know where they get these vegetables from.

S.Siraj Ahmed
#5& 6 Staircase Counters
Russel Market
Bangalore 560 051
Phone: 559 5479
Fax: 546 3123
 Click here for a 360° panoramic view of Russel Market  

Photographs by Ravindra Nayak C.H.
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